Northstar Travel & Associates's Blog

SGang Gwaay you gotta go here Let’s get names first lest you get confused. SGang Gwaay llnagaay is also known as Nan Sdins which is also known as Ninstints. Now the Village of Nan Sdins is located on a small island called SGang Gwaay (Anthony Island). The Anthony Island is part of an archipelago off the west coast of British Columbia called Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii). This village is the best known evidence of the Haida Indian culture and for this reason; it was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981. read more
Top 5 Adventure Destinations in Costa Rica Costa Rica occupies a pedestal spot in the Central American tourism industry. It is favored by the fact that it is the most stable and democratic country in Central America and also by the fact that it is bordered by two of the most majestic water bodies in the world - the Pacific Ocean to its west coast and the Caribbean Sea to its east coast. It is therefore no wonder that the country is also a hot destination for those seeking adventure. Below are the top adventure destinations in the country. read more
A brief history of New York Today, New York City, a city located on the eastern coast of the United States is home to the headquarters of the United Nations as well as a global power in the fields of commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment. But this was not always so. Below is a brief history of the city's metamorphosis from a small trading harbor 650 years ago to a global city today. read more
5 things you need to know about Marbella As if destined for greatness, the city of Marbella was strategically founded on the shores of Mediterranean Sea, between Málaga and the Gibraltar Strait, in the foothills of the Sierra Blanca. It is a city located in the Spanish province of Malaga, in the Autonomous region of Andalusia. The fact that the city is located on the Mediterranean Sea is enough to induce to you make a visit, but just to entice you more, here are some things you should know about the city. read more
10 Interesting facts about the Kashmir Valley Also known as the Vale of Kashmir, Kashmir Valley is located in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir and straddles between Karakoram and the Pir Panjal Range. The valley was created by the Jhelum River. Below are some few interesting facts about the beautiful Valley. read more
Great tours to check out in Dubai At the risk of disturbing the spirits of the dead, Sheikh Maktoum bin Butti Al-Maktoum, the father of the modern Dubai and the forefather of the current ruler of Dubai Rashid bin saeed Al Maktoum, must be a happy man. I am sure he is watching with glee as his once an 800-members Baniyas clan command respect around the world by constructing the tallest skyscrapers and doing booming business in the tourism sector in a region formerly dismissed as unproductive. It seems for the last 50 years, the Arab Bedouin emirate of Dubai has re-engineered itself into one of the hottest tourist circuit in the world. If you are in doubt, why not check out the following tours - we may turn you into a believer of miracles yet... read more
Five reasons to visit Cape Getaway Show In 2013, the Cape Gateway Show attracted 250 exhibitors, 15, 524 visitors, and thousands of international tourists. Clearly, there must be something good that is happening at the show that attracts such huge numbers for a show that is barely 3 years. The fact that it is attracting all family members - teens included- further augments my belief that there is something incredible about this show. Below are some of the reasons why you should attend the show in 2014. read more
Embark on a sunset ride in Khan Khentii, Mongolia One of the very best ways to see Mongolia is by horseback. After all, the world's greatest conqueror, Genghis Khan, was an expert horse rider. Khan is said to have been born, and possibly buried in Khan Khentii, Mongolia - making this part of the vast country the idea area for a sunset horseback ride. read more
Tie The Knot In Style At The La Fenice Opera House In Venice Nearly everyone who plans a wedding wants the most lavishly elegant ceremony possible. Much of that elegance comes from the venue at which the ceremony is held. One venue that is sure to impress and make for some amazing wedding memories is the La Fenice Opera House in Venice, Italy. read more
Marvel at the beautiful sights of Salzburg on a cruise on the Salzach Perhaps the most famous news bite about Salzburg is that the 18th century music composition genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born here. However, a closer look at the place gives you memories of the Baroque-style architecture in its old town. In fact, United Nations Scientific, Education and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have named the city's Old Town a World Heritage Site. read more
Activities for a cruise around Central America The Mesoamerican region is an area of 524,000 square kilometers that comprises countries such as Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. The region is also known as Central America due to the fact that it lies between North America to the north, Latin America to the south, Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea and Caribbean Islands to the east. This region is very popular with tourists, especially cruise ships tours. Below are some of the activities you can engage in when on a cruise to Central America. read more
Take a quick cooking course while staying in Rio de Janeiro at "Cook in Rio" Rio de Janeiro is the second biggest city in Brazil after Brasilia. It is home to about 11.6 million people. Among these people include the native Latin Americans, the expatriate workers, and remnants of the Portuguese and Spanish who had colonized the country. The city also boasts a host of festivals throughout the year. It is within this mixture of cultures and festivities that the culinary genius of the Brazilian people comes to fore. read more
Riding the gondolas in Venice For Italians, the gondolas that float along the canals in Venice are a tremendous source of national and historical pride. They are a unique symbol of Venetian culture and are one of the most exciting (and romantic) activities for tourists to this eclectic Italian town. read more
How to get to your Dream Holiday Destination on a Small Budget Many people would love to have a trip to an exotic foreign holiday destination. However, modern economics dictate that this is not always possible. So what do you do? Do you give up on ever having a holiday in the place of your dreams? Do you wait until you get rich to start enjoying life? These are the problems most young ‘ungainfully’ employed people grapple with every day. However a few of them have found a way around this and would like to share their secrets with you. read more
Tour Jamaica on Horseback with Braco Stables Imagine watching the birds and the wildlife in jamaica on a horse back or having the horse swim while you are on its back. Better still experience life in a 300 year old sugar farm. These are experiences that will make your tour to the Caribbean nation stick with you long after you have left. read more
See the Copan Ruins in Honduras In the midst of the jungle there are things that go bump. Or clink. It's okay, it's just the glasses of the people sitting at the next table for dinner. Your mind is still wandering around the ruins looking for intricate hieroglyphs to tell you more about the lives of the people that once inhabited the area. read more
Relax on One of the Dominican Republic's Best Beaches

The Dominican Republic, the surf, the sand, the resorts, the spas; it all sounds too good to be true. It's not! For a romantic getaway, or just a getaway the beaches of the Dominican Republic can be very enticing.

You finally got to take the trip of a lifetime so you head to the Dominican Republic to see what they offer. The good news is: you find yourself taken away by something much better than Calgon. It's those sandy beaches, your drink of choice, and the best spa ever. There are several beaches to chose from. Just close your eyes and point and let your imagination take over from there.

Remember to take along a bathing suit and not much else. There should be no need to change clothes forty times while you are on this particular trip. Pack a sarong, some sandals you wouldn't mind losing in the surf and maybe something to wear at night if the mood strikes you. Leave the phone packed away for most of this trip, unless you are going to take spectacular photos with it.

Take photos of everything, even the sunset, because everything can be spectacular when viewed through a haze of relaxation. Don't leave the adrenalin junkies at home, bring one along so they can enjoy the wind-surfing, para-sailing, kite-surfing, snorkeling and more. Playa Punta Cana is ideal for those travelers who enjoy the finer things in life. Top notch cuisine, rooms and spas are located at Punta Cana.

For a secluded beach go to Playa Bahoruco and spend time lazing around in the sunshine. Take a trip off the beaten path to Playa Cabarete for a little sightseeing and some down time. Progress has not yet landed face first on Playa Cabarete, so go and enjoy.

One of the great things about visiting the Caribbean, other than the sunshine and relaxing beaches are the prices. Most people think going to the Caribbean costs thousands and thousands of dollars. Not true, most flights and hotel packages will not cost over 4,000 USD. So, put the kids college money back into the account, you don't have to empty your IRA just for a trip of a lifetime.

Now it's up to you to choose which of the beaches you favor and want to spend some quality time lying around on. Be safe when traveling. There is so much to do on any of the Dominican beaches you might not want to leave for a while.

When going out of town remember there are certain things you should do. Forward your mail or have someone pick it up so your mailbox will not overflow and your bills go sailing down the street. Also, you might want to remember to have someone feed the pet or kennel the pet. Either way, someone has to watch the other things that live in your house that need to be healthy when you get home. Other than that, have a great time.

Activities For A Rainy Day on Your Vacation Gloomy weather can ruin even the cheeriest moods. Ward off boredom (for both you and your family) with this list of family activities and relaxing ideas when it rains during your vacation. read more
5 Ways to Enjoy the Blue Mountains: Jamaica Its Not always Sun, Sea & Partying in Jamaica. For those who enjoy a rugged trail or scenic vacation, then visiting the Blue Mountains may be the ideal vacation spot for you. Here are 5 activities that you can include in your next trip to Jamaica. read more
Explore the Chianti Region on a Siena and San Gimignano Day Trip Want to see two of Tuscany's most popular attractions? Then check out the Siena and San Gimignano Day Trip in Florence, Italy. On this trip visitors will take a guided tour of Siena, including the famous cathedral and main square and will explore the hilltop of San Gimignano. read more
Packing Checklist Clients sometimes ask what they should pack for their vacation, so I thought I'd post a list here of my "go to". Of course, it will depend on where you're going on vacation, but these are what I consider the essentials. There are many check-list templates available online. I suggest you print one off, check things off as you pack them, and then make a copy of that list in case your luggage gets lost. Three tips before I get to the list: 1. ALWAYS make sure you have luggage insurance. We provide insurance packages which include lost and delayed baggage protection. You won't realize how valuable luggage insurance is until you've experienced the loss of your own bags. 2. Don't pack anything in your check-in luggage which is valuable. And by valuable, I don't just mean that it has monetary value. I mean sentimental value too. 3. I know it may seem silly, but take photos of everything in your luggage before you pack it in your luggage. I usually lay everything out on my bed and take a photo of it all in one shot. This way, if your luggage does get lost, you have proof of what was in there. All right, here's the list: - shampoo and conditioner - soap and facial cleanser - deodorant - feminine hygiene products - hand and body lotion - lip balm with SPF - toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss - comb and/or brush - razors and shaving gel - insect repellent - sunscreen and sunglasses and a hat/cap with visor or wide brim - contact-lens storage case, cleaning solution, extra contacts and/or eyeglasses - electronic device chargers - camera and equipment including extra memory card and extra batteries - travel journal - extra resealable bags - photocopies of passport, driver's license, birth certificate, health-insurance card and vaccination certificates (if applicable) - electrical adapter and/or converter kit (always check the voltage used in destination) - snacks - antibacterial wipes and small packet of tissues - travel pillow and blanket - list of emergency contact numbers - money - have some cash in the local currency, in small denominations on hand Keep in mind that not all countries use ATM's like we do here in North America. Make sure that the country you're going to visit is ATM-user-friendly. Many of us use Blackberry's, iPhones, and other devices similar to these. Keep in mind that some countries (such as Cuba) prohibit devices which have GPS on them. And last but not least... don't forget your passport. Even if it's not mandatory to provide a passport to enter the country you are about to visit, a passport is still the best form of identification. And please make sure you passport is in good condition. Some countries will deny you entry if your passport is torn, crumpled, or damaged in any way. If you have any questions about this list or if you feel I've left something important off this list, please don't hesitate to contact me directly: Elizabeth@northstartravel.ca P.S. Final packing tip: lay everything out on your bed, then put half of it back in the closet. The less you have, the less you have to worry about. read more
Learn the Art of Pasta Making at a Handmade Pasta Cooking Course Have you ever wanted to learn to make authentic Italian pasta? Then take a Handmade Pasta Cooking Course in Florence, Italy. During this class visitors will learn the traditional and modern arts of pasta making while they prepare three styles of pasta, sauces and dessert. read more
Why I Love The Azores - great weather, year-round....minimums are usually double-digits (even in winter)....highs are around 28/29 (plus humidity. If you check the internet for weather in Azores, it'll say "rain", that's because at any given time, somewhere on one of the nine islands there could be a bit of rain....but very localised. Luckily, there's plenty to do indoors in case the rain lasts for more than an hour or two. - only a 5 hour flight from Toronto...so only slightly longer than flying to the Caribbean - reasonable prices for airfare and affordable accommodations (from 4 star hotels to more authentic accommodations in pousadas, one and two bedroom apartments, there's something for everyone) - there are nine islands in the Azores and each has something special to offer. In some cases (Faial to Pico) you can get to by ferry, in other cases a short flight is best. I visited four of the nine islands: Sao Miguel was most populous (but NOT crowded at all!), Faial was quiet, Pico (my favourite) is SO picturesque and Terceira is great for shopping - phenomenal eco-tourism....SO scenic and unspoiled and just plain gorgeous....I'm pretty sure I snapped about 2500 photos....edited down to over 1300 now.....so if you feel like you've "been there, done that", you HAVE to go to the Azores! - delicious food (I had absolutely no issues with being accommodated due to being vegan....almost every meal I had was a 10 out of 10)...the rest of our group (15 in total) all said they loved the beef....but also the pork, chicken, and fish dishes....everyone cleaned their plate at almost every sitting...really great food! And wine! - excellent shopping (shoes and clothing were at the top of the list for most of our group). Passion fruit is big there, so they have Passion Fruit Liquer (yum!), Passion Fruit Fanta, and Passion Fruit juice for breakfast....BEST pineapple I've EVER had in my life! The market in Sao Miguel is FANTASTIC! - friendly people, CLEAN and safe towns and cities (I felt safer there than I do here in Canada!) - roads are in immaculate condition..... great for renting a car and exploring....driving is on the right....drivers are very courteous and only once we came across a herd of goats being escorted across the road (150 of them!). Some roads (as you go up the mountains) are hair-pinny, but there are many that are just nicely winding along and others that are straight as an arrow. Around every bend, you'll see something beautiful and/or interesting. - lots of options when it comes to excursions! We visited a beautiful waterfall with a natural "infinity pool"....we visited a vineyard....a tea plantation....we went into the belly of a dormant volcano to check out the most incredible cave I've ever seen!.....we went whale watching and saw hundreds of dolphins...... when it rained we visited a really cool museum (to learn about volcanos in 3-D), we visited a convent, we stopped to take photos of "nature's swimming pool"....I felt like we'd just scratched the surface of all there is to see and do. - although the Azorean islands are in the Atlantic,, sometimes I felt like I was in Switzerland (hills and mountains with green pastures and very healthy Holsteins grazing on lush grass), sometimes I felt like I was on Santorini (brilliant blue sky back-dropping white houses perched on cliffs; steep cobble-stoned pathways and roads), sometimes I felt like I was on Miami's Southbeach (palm trees, sound of the ocean nearby, and a plethora of cafes, great for people watching), and other times I felt like I was in the Caribbean with the hot sunshine on my back...truly SO diverse! I loved the Azores so much, I've promised myself a return trip. And who knows, maybe I'll even buy a small property there some day and make it my home-away-from-home. To check out my photos, go to the Northstar homepage and click on PHOTOS. For more information, rates, and reservations, please contact me directly. read more